How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig

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The glossy and heavily veined leave of fiddle leaf fig.
The glossy and heavily veined leave of fiddle leaf fig. (Image: leaf image by Keith Pinto from Fotolia.com)

Fiddle leaf fig, known botanically as Ficus iyrata, is a non-fruiting variety of fig used primarily as an ornamental indoor plant. The tree takes its colloquial name from the large curvy, violin-shaped leaves that can reach 12 inches or more in length. A tender, tropical tree, Ficus iyrata has a unique architectural canopy with upright and spreading branches and a slow-growth habit making pruning an undesirable practice. However, compromised plant tissues should be removed judiciously and with a light hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Secateurs
  • Loppers

Don a pair of garden gloves when pruning or handling Ficus iyrata. Like all Ficus species the tree emits a milky latex when cut which can be very irritating when it comes into contact with the skin. Some people are very sensitive to it while others not at all. If in doubt, wear gloves.

Remove individual dead, brown, badly torn or otherwise compromised leaves by using secateurs to sever the short leaf stem just outside the main branch, taking care not to cut into branch tissues.

Cut back a broken or cracked branch cleanly with loppers to the point that it is structurally stable and can be supported by the tree. Minimize the loss of branches as these can take many years to regenerate.

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